Where will the former Philadelphia Phillies' ace pitch in 2015?
It's been well over a month since former Phillies' lefty Cliff Lee reportedly made his attempt to return to the game in 2016 public, and yet we know little to nothing about how close Lee is to being able to pitch, how much he hopes to be compensated to pitch and just how effective he's going to be.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, teams around the league feel as in the dark about Lee's attempt to return to the game as the public does.
While there’s been a great deal of inquiry, some teams say they haven’t been able to get a good read on Lee’s readiness. Is he ready to join a team right away or is he eyeing a midseason return after elbow issues wiped out his 2015 season?
An AL official said he knew very little about Lee’s offseason program and progress.
Lee, who turned 37 last summer, is said to want to sign with a 'strong contender', in the same report.
According to an official from an NL team, Lee wants to sign with a strong contender.
Considering that Lee is probably entering his final season, this would seem to make sense. His agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio that Lee needed a 'perfect fit' to pitch in 2016, which not only coincides with what this executive says, but is probably vague enough to confuse teams on exactly what Lee intends to do in 2016.
A third executive that Cafardo spoke to seemed to think that Lee's price-tag wasn't as small as some had originally expected.
Another NL official thought Lee was asking for a high base salary.
Given how wide-ranging the interest appears to be in Lee, the idea that he was going to only make a few million next season without incentives was probably a stretch. One would think Lee would target a base salary between $7-$10 million next year, with incentives that could bring the deal up to the $15-$20 million range.
Lee's free-agency is interesting in that regard. If he is able to stay healthy and still pitch anywhere close to the elite level he once did, paying him a base salary of $7-$10 million would be a steal. But if he signs with a team for a base salary in that range and then has a season-ending injury in April, then that team is out $7-$10 million.
Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) is the Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com, focusing on news and features.